Saturday, May 28, 2022

From the Past, We Must Look to the Future

Winn-Dixie #662
14275 South Tamiami Trail, North Port, FL - North Port Shopping Center (Village Shopping Center)

     Amongst the hundreds (or even thousands) of locations in a supermarket chain, there are always those special locations that hold some kind of claim to fame within the company - the largest store, the smallest store, the fanciest store, the greenest store, etc. and the list goes on. However, there is one claim to fame that most chains tend to sweep under the rug, but us retail enthusiasts will seek out to no end: the most outdated location in the chain. Of the 400-something stores Winn-Dixie runs, the company's most outdated location is the one we'll be touring today. (And don't worry, out of fairness, I'll be throwing Publix under the bus with their most outdated location later this year!) Just from the exterior this place looks old, with the pre-Marketplace era logo still displayed on the front of the building, and the inside isn't much more modern than that logo. With all that outdatedness in store, I think everyone will be in for a fun tour today!

     If you've been reading the blog lately, you know that Winn-Dixie is in the midst of a huge remodeling campaign, a campaign that expects to completely modernize all of the chain's stores by the end of 2023. After many years of neglect, the time has finally come for many of the stores that have escaped remodels for the last 30 years to be refreshed, like the Marion Oaks store we toured earlier this year. While Marion Oaks remodeled to the new Winn Win decor in late 2021, as far as I can tell, this store in North Port still clings onto its late 1980's Neon Marketplace decor as of mid-2022 (however, see my note at the end of this post). Neon Marketplace is the same decor Marion Oaks held onto until its remodel last year, and with that store's remodel, made North Port the last of its kind in the Winn-Dixie chain.

     The fact that the Marion Oaks Winn-Dixie escaped remodels for so long wasn't much of a surprise, as that store was fairly isolated from most other competition, serving a "captive audience" if you will. With the next closest competitors miles away, the Winn-Dixie in Marion Oaks was getting steady business regardless of what it looked like. What surprises me so much about the situation here in North Port is the exact opposite case applies here - Publix, Walmart, and Aldi are only a little over a mile south of here on Tamiami Trail, and there was even a Food Lion in that mix for a brief period too. I'm really surprised this store didn't receive a quick Purple/Maroon refresh in the early 2000's like many other older Winn-Dixie stores still hanging around. I don't know how or why, but besides a few minor changes, this place had evaded a full remodel for the last 30+ years, and it somehow managed to last until 2022 in this form.

     Having opened in 1979 as one of North Port's first supermarkets, this store would have originally had an interior that resembled this. Come the late 1980's, the store was expanded and remodeled into what we see today, a very early Marketplace conversion.

    I think we've stared at the exterior of this store long enough, so let's head inside and see what makes this place so interesting:

     Stepping inside, we enter behind the check lanes into a row of promotional items. The North Port Winn-Dixie has a nearly-identical layout to what we saw in Marion Oaks, however this store is a bit larger. Also, unlike what we saw up in Marion Oaks, this store has much more of its Neon Marketplace interior in-tact. From this spot at the front of the store the decor doesn't look like much (and almost as white-washed as Marion Oaks), but as we circle the salesfloor we'll get to see many more original Neon Marketplace elements.

     Unfortunately, before we get to more of those original neon elements, we have to venture through the white-washed produce department. Like Marion Oaks, the North Port Neon Marketplace store did get toned down a bit in its later years, but not to the extent we saw at Marion Oaks where all but three of the original neon signs were ripped out. Here in North Port, the original floor tiles in the produce department were swapped out for the later Marketplace pink and teal design, with a pink and teal stripe painted on the walls to break up all the blank white space (that stripe not visible here, but will be once we venture out of this area).

     The flooring design and the stripe indicate Winn-Dixie did a quick refresh in the late 90's, but that refresh was cheap enough to have kept a lot of the late 1980's decor still in-tact. The colorful late-era Marketplace floors clash quite a bit with the stark whiteness of the walls, giving the produce department an odd feel.

     From produce, here's a look across the length of the store. The addition Winn-Dixie built during the original Neon Marketplace conversion happened on the building's left side, where the bakery and deli departments reside now. Everything from where I'm standing to the end of the check lanes is the approximate size of the original 1979 supermarket.

     Walking further toward the back of the store, this look back toward produce gives us our first glimpse of the teal and pink stripe that runs along the perimeter walls. The stripe isn't anything fancy, but at least we have that and the remaining neon signs to break up the otherwise blank white walls.

     Beyond produce was some assorted promotional merchandise, followed by a few aisles of non-food items and greeting cards. In the background of this image, you will spot our first glimpse of the original Neon Marketplace decor (a piece that should look familiar to you if you remember the Marion Oaks post).

     There were some interesting tile patterns used in this store's flooring, like the odd checkerboard design leading into the aisle against the wall. It looks like Winn-Dixie added an island of some kind here during that late 90's refresh, where all those pallets are stored now. I've seen floral islands in that spot in other 1990's Winn-Dixie stores, and this store didn't have much of a floral selection anymore, so my best guess is floral was once located here.

     Getting closer to the back wall of the store, here's a look down the very short first aisle. The main wall striping comes into view here, wrapping around the perimeter of the raised ceiling over the main sales floor. The raised ceiling with the curved corners is a really old Winn-Dixie trait, a trait you don't see too often anymore except in a really old store like this. A lot of you reading this will probably be comparing that design to what Kroger used in their Greenhouse stores of the 1970's, as Kroger was pretty famous for using curved corners during that era. I've never even been to an old Kroger of such design, and even I'm seeing a resemblance between the interior of a Greenhouse Kroger and this old school Winn-Dixie!

     Getting to the back of the store, this is where the Neon Marketplace fun begins! Unlike the produce department that Winn-Dixie reconfigured in the 1990's, the rest of the store is as close as we're going to get to what Winn-Dixie looked like in the late 1980's! (Well, we can get closer, but that store isn't a Winn-Dixie anymore, and a 10 hour drive from where I live!)

     The "Fisherman's Wharf" neon sign and the chrome panels we see here are almost identical to the set-up we saw up in Marion Oaks. The blue floor tiles are also original to the Neon Marketplace decor, as are the orange tiles further along the back wall going toward the meat department. Unlike Marion Oaks pre-remodel, North Port has kept a small service counter here in the "Fisherman's Wharf", to the left of the self-serve seafood coolers. I wouldn't be surprised when this store eventually remodels to Winn Win, that it also gets the full meat and seafood counter restored like Marion Oaks did, as the counter we see here is rather sub-par to what the more modernized stores offer. Also unlike Marion Oaks, I had a pastel pink lightbar at this store getting in my way of the neon "Fisherman's Wharf" sign. Between that lightbar and the butcher roaming around just out of frame, I wasn't able to go as photo-happy with the neon and chrome "Fisherman's Wharf" here in North Port like I was able to in Marion Oaks.

     From this short (and rather oddly-placed) aisle of health and beauty products, here's a somewhat obscured look at the "Fisherman's Wharf".

     This was my best photo of the "Fisherman's Wharf" corner, giving a nice overview of the service counter, the chrome panels, the neon sign, and my friend the lightbar (which played nice in this photo)! The butcher and his co-worker were hiding behind that open cooler door, which worked out for me too.

     Pulling back a little bit from that last shot, here's a wider overview of the store's back right corner, with more of the meat coolers (and original orange tile pattern) coming into view.

     Spinning around, here's a look across the back of the store. Outside of the old colored floor tile, it appears to be fairly white-washed back here. However, the back wall still contains a few surprises, which we'll be seeing shortly...

     Returning to the grocery aisles, we find more health and beauty items as we work our way back toward produce. Health and beauty products in the back right corner of the store is a really strange location for this department in any Winn-Dixie, as usually wine or snack foods will take up this space. Health and beauty is usually located closer toward the left side of the store, near the pharmacy counter (which this store once had), so I have no idea how this department ended up over here.

     More health and beauty products can be found in the next aisle, as well as baby supplies. In this aisle, we finally enter the higher-ceiling portion of the building, bounded by the curvy ceiling transition. However, in a weird old Winn-Dixie with lots of decor surprises, there's a more modern decor oddity sitting right in this aisle. Do you see it?

     If you thought the aisle markers in this store were looking a bit strange, you'd be right. These aren't even Winn-Dixie aisle markers at all - they're Sweetbay's! As you probably recall, Winn-Dixie bought 72 stores from Sweetbay in 2013 when Delhaize America announced their intents to wind down that chain. In the time since, a number of those 72 locations Winn-Dixie purchased have closed or remodeled. Until the recent "revival" era (which is actually a good term for the renewed post-2020 Winn-Dixie), the company had a habit of taking newer aisle markers from closed stores and sending them to older stores where the original aisle markers were looking a bit dumpy. It was a cheap update, and in the past I've come across Marketplace Winn-Dixie stores with an assortment of unrelated aisle markers (such as post-Bankruptcy and Transformational era ones). North Port is one of two older stores I've come across that got recycled Sweetbay decor aisle markers (a now-closed store in Ocala being the other), and they just seem so out of place here. If nothing else, they do look nice, and are certainly much more modern that what this store must have had prior.

     Sweetbay decor aisle markers in a Winn-Dixie with mostly intact late 1980's decor, what more can you ask for? (Publix decor in an old Food Lion, maybe?)

     Returning to the front of the store, here's a look toward the check lanes. Unlike Marion Oaks (which had theirs covered over with a lower ceiling), North Port still has its vaulted ceiling over the check lanes, a design feature common in late 1980's era Winn-Dixie stores. The vaulted ceiling over the check lanes has somewhat of a skylight effect to it. While it has the effect, I don't think real skylights are a feature Winn-Dixie has ever used in a store they've built themselves.

     Here's another view of the check lanes, as seen from the front aisle near the edge of produce.

     Back to the grocery aisles, we find more non-foods as we continue further toward the left side of the building. It's a bit odd Winn-Dixie stacked most of the non-foods on the right side of the store, as the flow of this store brings shoppers to that side of the building first. Typically, grocery stores place non-foods toward the end of the typical flow of the average meandering shopper, so I don't know what Winn-Dixie was going for here.

     Lots of displays can be found in the middle of the back aisle, with the meat coolers running along the back wall. The category markers above the meat coolers are from the Purple/Maroon era, another random era of decor making its presence known in here!

     Back up front, we see the area around the check lanes was refreshed in the late 1990's as well, with the teal/pink floor tile pattern appearing again, as well as the teal/pink stripes within the raised ceiling above the check lanes.

     By the time we make it to aisle 7, actual groceries appear again. However, while cereal and canned fruit is nice and all, look what lies on the wall ahead of me!

     One of the most famous signs from the Neon Marketplace decor is this one, the sign for the meat department. Instead of a plain old "Meat" sign, Winn-Dixie chose to brand that department by the company's famous tagline "The Beef People", with the accompanying cowboy silhouette above it. This sign was always prominently featured on the back wall where it could clearly be seen from the front, as the meat department was always (and still is) one of Winn-Dixie's strongest and most prominent features. Sadly, this sign (like all the other neon signs in the North Port store) doesn't light up anymore, whether that be because the signs are burnt out or management simply doesn't want to deal with lighting them up anymore. When lit up, this sign would have looked like this. Even though it's never lit anymore, it's still really cool to see this sign up on the wall, as this is classic Winn-Dixie at its finest (well, if you ignore the bottom of that Sweetbay decor aisle marker poking in on the shot, anyway!).

     From the cool old neon, it's back to the grocery aisles as we continue our way to the left side of the building...

     How sweet it is to be a Winn Win with The Beef People at the Marketplace, because things are getting better all the time, right? If any of those jingles are stuck in your head now, this one will certainly override all of them!

     A lot of water for sale here in aisle 10, which is the last aisle before we transition over to frozen foods.

     Before we get to frozen foods, here's another look across the back of the store. The wall above the meat coolers is actually a giant mirror, which kept tricking me into thinking it was a giant window the entire time I was here.

     Entering the frozen food department, we find two aisles separated by a coffin cooler in the middle. Like many late 1980's early generation Marketplace stores, we get a vaulted ceiling effect over this department, just like we saw at Marion Oaks. However, at Marion Oaks, the frozen food department at that store still retained its original blue floor tiles. Here in North Port, we see the flooring in this department was updated in the late 1990's when the tiles in produce and at the front end were changed out.

     Spinning around, here's a look from frozen foods toward the front check lanes.

     Frozen foods are left out of the store's aisle count, making the next aisle after frozen foods aisle 11.

     Stepping out of aisle 11, here's more of the back wall, as I really didn't know where else to stuff this photo in the progression of our tour.

     Turning around from our vantage point in that previous photo, here's a look toward the back left corner of the store. What we see here is the approximate area of the late 1980's expansion, which Winn-Dixie used to add in a modernized (for the time) deli and bakery department. In the back of the expansion we also find dairy, which lies in the coolers before me.

     I believe these poles in aisle 12 mark the official location of where the old store ended and the expansion space begins.

     The store's pharmacy would have been located here, in this nook behind the customer service desk. However, due to the presence of an Eckerd in the space adjacent to the Winn-Dixie store (now vacant), it appears that Winn-Dixie may have never had a pharmacy at this location (and why this space was used as an alcove instead).

     Aisle 13 is the last numbered aisle in this store, and home to chips and other snack foods. There are a few more aisles to follow this one, but they're all unnumbered (either by intention, or because whatever Sweetbay store these aisle markers came from only had 13 aisles to start with).

     Following aisle 13 is the wine, with the deli and bakery lying just ahead.

     The deli and bakery are located in the front left corner of the building, and since this is in the expansion space, these departments use a very 1980's design. This area probably looked much funkier when the neon signs were turned on, although a full late-era Marketplace remodel could have done this part of the store well! Before the walls above the counter were whitewashed, they would have been covered in the same chrome paneling we saw back at "Fisherman's Wharf", the neon lighting up in red. Unlike Marion Oaks, at least these neon signs got to survive, so these department have some kind of designation to point shoppers in the right direction.

     The deli takes up the counter space closer to the old pharmacy counter, with the bakery taking up the space closer to the corner.

     In front of the deli and bakery is an island of coolers, now used for prepackaged deli products. The way the coolers are set up with a small prep area in the middle seems to suggest these coolers had a more significant purpose back in the day, maybe a small offering from Winn-Dixie's 1990's Food Pavilion perhaps? Otherwise, it's a strange setup for coolers of pre-packaged prepared foods.

     A few short aisles of wine can be found behind the cooler island, one of which can be seen here.

     Dairy wraps around onto the left side wall, with beer following. Another oddity about this part of the store is the light blue grid pattern on the floor. The grid pattern begins in the first unnumbered aisle after aisle 13, and runs to the side wall. The pattern seems to signify something was here prior, something more significant than a few aisles of wine that don't match up with the pattern. I've never come across this tile pattern before, but it appears to be original to the Neon Marketplace era and not the later Marketplace refresh. If anyone knows what this tile pattern used to designate (or if I'm just overthinking it), let me know in the comments.

     Here we see the leftmost aisle as it transitions into beer, with the bakery and deli counter in the background.

     Here's one last look at the deli counter before we head back up front and begin to make our way out of here.

     I really like the faux skylight effect over the registers, although Winn-Dixie's attempt at faux skylights seems more convincing than Publix's, although I like that giant light over the front end in Publix's older stores too. Different designs but still a neat effect.

     A very old customer service desk resides between the check lanes and the old pharmacy counter, the desk most likely original to the Neon Marketplace remodel.

     Back outside, our tour of the most outdated Winn-Dixie is about to come to a close. With a 30+ year old decor mish-mashed between a few half-hearted updates since, this place is a sight to see. With the way Winn-Dixie's remodeling spree is going, this store's decor is most likely living on borrowed time, if a remodel hasn't already started yet (which very well may be the case, per my note that you'll find the end of the post).

     While a store that hasn't seen a thorough remodel in over 30 years is a spectacle for us, it probably is time for Winn-Dixie to come in and update this place. I have to say, the Winn Win remodels have been doing wonders to these previously tired old stores, taking a dated old store like Marion Oaks and bringing it to a whole new level. I'm sure this Winn-Dixie in North Port would look really good in green and red when the day comes, hopefully cleaning up this store enough to keep it going for another 30 years. For now though, the North Port Winn-Dixie will serve as our last look into what Winn-Dixie was like in the 1980's, a chapter that Winn-Dixie will most likely put behind them very soon.

     From the era of The Beef People, it probably won't be long before the era of "It's a Winn Win!" catches up to this store. I'm still amazed at how well Winn-Dixie has been sticking to their promise to remodel all of their stores by the end of 2023, and I'm very convinced that's going to happen at the rate the remodeling is going. I have four Winn-Dixie remodels happening in my area right now, and there are many more going on out there too. Only five years ago you could easily find one of about 10 different decor packages at any given Winn-Dixie ranging from the late 1980's to the late 2010's. Come 2024, we'll be looking at two: Down Down and Winn Win. I'm really enjoying seeing Winn-Dixie come back to life like they are, and succeeding at it too. Like the old saying goes, from the past we must look to the future, and at long last Winn-Dixie has taken that advice and stuck to it. Here on AFB we'll be seeing a lot more of Winn-Dixie from both the past and present. I have lots of photosets of older Winn-Dixie stores sitting in my archives, and we'll slowly take a look at those while we explore what Winn-Dixie is doing in the present too. Exciting times for Floridian retail, and if it's Floridian retail you like, be sure to come back in two weeks to explore some more right here on AFB!

So until the next post,

The Albertsons Florida Blogger

UPDATE October 2022 - Following the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, the North Port Winn-Dixie got beat up pretty bad, leading to the building being condemned by the city of North Port.

UPDATE November 2022 - Winn-Dixie decided to not repair this store, and to close it permanently, bringing the era of Neon Marketplace to an end. You can read more about that decision here.


  1. Great tour and I love the store! Very cool to see the decor intact (or, mostly intact, at least) like it is.

    Any chance that section near the deli with single-tier coolers would've been a cheese department, with prep area for in-store cutting of block cheese? Quite a few stores I can think of use a setup like that and/or used a setup like that in the 90s. Some stores would just use the prep space to prepare cheese that was then packaged, and other more deluxe ones would actually have it as a service counter, where an attendant would cut cheese to order and offer insight like pairing with wine, for instance. Most of the examples I can think of have since been removed or repurposed. A few examples:
    A&P/now ACME in Kenilworth, NJ (I have pictures of the cheese island being removed):
    Stop & Shop in Watchung, NJ (still there, but converted to all self-service):
    ShopRite in Lincoln Park, NJ (still there as a service department, and still used for prep and some other higher-end features like store-made mozzarella):
    ShopRite in Mount Laurel, NJ (actually a former Stop & Shop, and the cheese island/prep is now used for cut produce):
    Most ShopRites owned by Saker Supermarkets also have service cheese counters, but sometimes they are on perimeter walls and not in an island. They also tend to be significantly larger, and feature a glass case for very high-end cheeses:

    That would be my guess, especially since I don't see another designated place for cheese in the deli area. Plus (and believe me, my Winn-Dixie knowledge is rather slim), weren't the Food Pavilions usually on a perimeter wall or peninsula, not in an island?

    1. Thanks, glad you liked it!

      That island in front of the deli could have been a cheese counter of some kind, as Winn-Dixie was experimenting with a lot of food bars/concepts during the short-lived Food Pavilion era. A gourmet cheese bar seems a little upmarket for what Winn-Dixie was going for back in the 1990's, but they could have been trying something similar on a less fancy scale. I see the similarities to the cheese bars you mention, so it could be possible, but it doesn't help that this is the only example of a set-up like this I've ever come across in a Winn-Dixie (so I have nothing similar to compare it to).

      Actually, the later new-build Food Pavilion stores are easy to identify because they had the deli in an island on the right side of the building, with a portion of the "Food Pavilion" counter behind the deli on the island (and a few food bars out front).

  2. When I read that this post would be about the most outdated Winn-Dixie, I scratched my head and thought "Gee, there are Winn-Dixies out there even more outdated than some of the ones Sing Oil Blog has been posting here lately?"

    Well, I guess the answer is yes! Then again, this does not exactly make those Winn-Dixies that Sing Oil Blog posted look modern and I can't really say that I'm shocked that Winn-Dixie would have some very outdated stores, lol. I don't know what it is about these 'Golden Girls' era Winn-Dixie stores, but whenever you post one, I can't help but to think of how sad they look. It's not that I don't have appreciation for vintage supermarkets, but these Winn-Dixies look like they have not aged well at all. Compare that to, say, my local Fiesta Mart which is stuck in about 1989, the Fiesta Mart looks great. I love shopping there. I don't know if I'd like shopping at this Winn-Dixie. With that in mind, perhaps it's good that the renovations might be starting soon!

    Perhaps this store would look better with working neon, but I'm not sure how much that would save things. The aisle markers from a different chain give this store even more of a broken down thrift store vibe, but in reality, the Goodwills in the area might well look better given the Florida Goodwills you've posted to the blog! This store really does look like something that Eddie Lampert might have been involved in. That's not a compliment, by the way, lol.

    Speaking of Eddie Lampert, surely you've heard by now that Sears Hometown is closing several of the new stores they've opened in Texas and elsewhere along with some older locations as well. Some of the stores that are closing just opened in 2022 or in very late 2021! Here in Houston, the Sears Hometown in the old Willowbrook Mall Sears, which is my local Sears Hometown, looks to be on the safe list, but who knows for how long it'll be safe for. Several other Houston-area Sears Hometowns are closing and there might be only two left in the Houston area. At this point, I would say any expansion of Sears Hometown in Florida is looking questionable.

    I suppose this is related to highly dated supermarket decor, but I'm not sure what Grand Union's involvement was in Florida other than my assumption that they did have something in Florida given that their logo is in the MFR logo. Anyway, Grand Union did have a brief presence in Houston via their mostly failed buyout of the Weingarten's chain in the late 1970s. Weingarten's was a major Houston grocer and they're still involved in commercial real estate. Anyway, there is an independent grocer in Texas City, which is in the Houston area, operating out of an old Weingarten's with a Marina-style exterior and ~1980 Grand Union decor on the inside. Even though the decor is older than what is at this Winn-Dixie, it looks less shabby than the least in my opinion. Mike from HHR did a post about it recently and it might be worth checking out for a dose of Grand Union:

    1. Yep, there are (or were) some Winn-Dixie stores still out there which have older décors than the ones I have written about! Don't worry, I still have a few more vintage ones up my sleeve, and since this Marion Oaks store is being remodeled, one of them may soon have the oldest interior package in operation!

    2. A lot of Winn-Dixie older stores did not age well. I've seen some that were better taken care of then others as far as maintenance and merchandising goes, but some like this one in North Port just feel sad. While the store felt sad, it wasn't dirty or gross or anything like that, just a bit tired. A lot of the stores getting remodeled now are the ones that have gone 25-30 years since their last remodel, and the results are really good when you see how well those stores do clean up when they have a little bit invested in them. If the rumors are true and this store is beginning its remodel, it's really for the best. I appreciate the old decor, but this store's layout was odd and it was lots of bits and pieces of old decor all thrown together. If nothing else, at least I got to see it in its original form. Some older designs can hold themselves together well and continue to look good many years later (like Fiesta Mart), but Winn-Dixie's overall neglect to their stores through the years didn't help that matter any.

      The unlit neon just makes the store even more sad and depressing in a way, adding to the overall feel of years of neglect this store got. I'm really surprised Winn-Dixie bothered importing aisle markers from a decor that wasn't even theirs to begin with, especially with all the other aisle markers from closed stores they could have chose from. Honestly, even old recycled Purple/Maroon aisle markers (like Marion Oaks had) could have worked in here, as while old, they would have matched the decor better. I guess the old decor and imported aisle markers were just symbols of how broken of a company Winn-Dixie was for most of the 2000's and 2010's.

      I'm really not surprised with the recent Sears Hometown closing list, with how scatterbrained that company is. I don't know what they're up to or trying to accomplish anymore, and nothing that comes out of the mind of Eddie Lampert makes any sense. At least with the initial closure list going around, there weren't any Florida locations on it that I noticed (although we don't have too many Sears Hometown stores in Florida to begin with). At least your (very odd) Willowbrook Mall Sears Hometown store is safe, and who knows what Eddie will do with that company next.

      Grand Union was in Florida for a while, from the 1950's or so until 1985. Most of Grand Union's Florida stores were clustered in South and Southwestern Florida, although South Florida was where they seemed to do best. That old Weingarten's in Texas City is quite interesting, as that's very much Grand Union's decor, and the store still has a very Grand Union-like design to it too. I've seen photos of that decor in some old Grand Union stores from the Northeast, so that's crazy it's managed to last for so long in Texas!

  3. I remember this Winn Dixie. Used to pass by it many times when I lived in Port Charlotte. Never once went in there, though, but I always wanted to. I finally got to see the interior. I remember seeing many design elements found in this store in many Winn Dixies I went to in my childhood.

    1. I don't know how much longer the store will look like this, but what you saw here is what it looked like (for the most part) since 1989. Even if it was virtually, at least you finally got the chance to see inside this store!

  4. Usually you talk about the shopping center, but you didn't today. I guess there's an empty space in it, at least from the sign...

    1. It's a pretty small shopping center, overall. There was the old Eckerd next door (mentioned in a comment below), but my photo of the old Eckerd space didn't turn out all that great so I just cut it from the post. The old Eckerd spent time as a Dollar General afterward, and the blank spot in the sign is where DG's logo used to be.

  5. Cool post! I'm sure you were very excited to get to see this store, as I have been when I saw some of the vintage stores I've toured. You have certainly seen many more old Winn-Dixies than I have, but I still wonder if those pink and teal stripes date back to the 1st gen Marketplace install. It seems like it would be a lot of work to re-paint the walls and replace the flooring in some areas of the store, without doing a more-thorough remodel. Especially since Winn-Dixie was at their height during the 1990's. It seems like Winn-Dixie #57 had pink and teal stripes on the façade when it opened in the 1980's, and I've seen proof of the pink and teal Makretplace package dating back to at least 1993 (see their annual report for that year). I wonder if this is just a different version of the 1980's package than you had seen previously. Furthermore, none of the pink Marketplace stores I have seen featured those basic stripes. The most basic install I've seen was Winn-Dixie #168 and it looked much more deluxe. I guess some things may remain a mystery though!

    It is also really strange to see the Sweetbay aisle markers in this store. I wonder if they indeed didn't have enough markers to finish out the store, so they just gave up on having a sign for aisle 14! If only the neon still worked to give us a true Marketplace of supermarket interiors!

    1. Yes, I was very excited to see this store! By the time I made it here I had already visited Marion Oaks, and knew this one was going to be more original (and in turn, more interesting). I've been trying my hardest to visit as many older stores as I could recently, knowing most of them were living on borrowed time. I missed out on a few that I wanted to see before they remodeled, but I still managed to visit a broad sampling of older Winn-Dixie stores with various decor.

      The only reason I was hesitant to say that the stripes weren't original to the neon decor was because the tile patterns around the check lanes and produce weren't original. Those floors are for sure from the mid-late 90's, as Neon Marketplace had the color-coded tiles (orange in meat, blue in frozen, etc.) Other than a random replacement of the tile at a later date, the only other theory I can come up with is that this store remodeled to Neon Marketplace as that decor was being phased out, and the more common package was being phased in, hence the elements from both. Maybe this store is even more original than I thought, or yet another example of a hybrid "transitional" decor package.

      The fact that the aisle markers in this store didn't even originate with Winn-Dixie is an odd sight, even taking the rest of the decor out of the picture! The aisle markers are nice, but they really don't match that well. I think Transformational era ones or even some decent looking Purple/Maroon ones would have matched the existing decor a bit better. Considering how Winn-Dixie was in the early-mid 2010's, I wouldn't be surprised if the ex-Sweetbay that closed just maxed out at aisle 13, and that was what this store had to work with! It would have been nice seeing working neon, as having it all turned off just makes the store feel more depressing.

  6. I love the way you started this post, because that's a very valid point -- surely these large chains like to keep up with certain store metrics, but "most outdated" probably isn't one of them! In fact, I wonder how conscious the chains are of that "honor" at all... Either way, you're definitely right, we certainly like to seek it out as retail fans!

    Thanks for the link to the greenhouse Kroger pic, and yep, I definitely was making that comparison myself as well. It's sad so much of the store was white-washed, but cool that at least more of the original signage remained here than at Marion Oaks (even if none of the neon is turned on anymore). I especially love your pics of the deli and bakery area and The Beef People sign!

    I agree with you that it's very strange to have all of the nonfoods over on the right side of the store, the first thing you encounter past produce. Like you, it would've made much more sense to me to have all of that over by the pharmacy instead. That fact, coupled with the odd blue striped flooring you saw over there, makes me wonder if indeed there was some special "Food Pavilion" or other such offering in that space that was later removed (similar to your floral department theory). All very interesting stuff, and it will also be interesting to see just how many offerings are brought back to this store once the remodel is complete. These are exciting times for Winn-Dixie for sure, and the shoppers here in North Port are long overdue for an upgrade!

    Seeing the repurposed Sweetbay aisle markers was a treat. And lastly, I find it curious that so much of the flooring was replaced in the 90s, but not any of the décor. It seems to me like the flooring would be a significantly more difficult undertaking, having to deal with moving all the fixtures, etc. Especially for what's intended as just a cheap and quick refresh, I'd have thought the wall décor would be swapped first, and the flooring left alone, similar to what we've seen from many other chains on many different occasions. I wonder if this store may have been in line for a larger remodel, but for some reason stopped after the flooring and the perimeter stripe were done? Granted, the stripe itself doesn't make much sense either if the remodel was once intended to be more sizable, so even I'm not convinced by my own theory, lol...

    1. It seems like just about every large retail chain has at least one location that always seems to slip through the remodel cracks for whatever reason, and this was Winn-Dixie's. I feel like that can't be intentional, as "most outdated" doesn't seem like a metric most chains would want to be keeping track of!

      You're welcome! I thought you'd be making that comparison when you saw those photos of the rounded corners. Acme had some older stores that used a similar rounded corner design too, so it seems like it was a popular choice in supermarket design at one time. Even if they didn't work anymore, at least I got to see most of the neon signs in-tact this time (unlike my experience at Marion Oaks). Just to see "The Beef People" sign was worth it, as I've never seen that one in person before!

      This was the first time I've ever seen a grocery store layout with health and beauty/non-food being the first thing you come across in the natural shopper path, as usually that's pushed toward the opposite side of the store (or where people end up last in their shopping trips). So much about this store's layout seems odd, which makes it seem like some aspects of the layout were tweaked as other features (like floral and potentially service "Food Pavilion" areas were removed). I would like to see the remodel tweak the floor plan to seem a little more "natural", such as shifting health and beauty to the opposite side of the store when Winn-Dixie typically puts it!

      The Sing Oil Blogger brought up an interesting point about the flooring above, about everything in here being original, and with the remodel happening in a transitional period between Neon Marketplace and the later Marketplace design. That would seem to make a little more sense in regard to the flooring patterns and the stripe, but who knows what Winn-Dixie did with this store...

  7. It makes me feel like I am 8 years old again going shopping with my mom at Winn Dixie. All the neon and pink/teal wall stripes. Can't believe this place has not been remodeled to at least Post Bankruptcy. It's honestly astonishing that an aged Winn Dixie like this can even compete against what is probably 7 Publixes, an Aldi and probably at least a couple of Wal Marts and not go out of business!

    My favorite aspect of this decor package are the diagonally faced plexiglass light covers over the Delicatessen. Those give off such a classic 80's grocery store vibe.
    As aged as this store looks, it also looks very clean. I'll never figure out why chain grocery stores remodel some stores and others they don't. And it's sometimes the longest lasting stores that don't get remodeled much, like Albertsons #4301 in Clearwater. Sometimes it seems that stores get remodels because they do so good, and sometimes it seems the company feels a particular stores needs a remodel to boost business.

    1. I'm surprised this store didn't get Purple/Maroon at the very least, as it's not like Winn-Dixie is the only grocery store in town here! This store really is a trip back in time though, and it's amazing it lasted untouched for as long as it did. The North Port Winn-Dixie must have something going for it, as it hasn't closed yet!

      The diagonal plexiglass is a nice design, and looked really good with the pink/teal Marketplace decor in the Fort Pierce Winn-Dixie before it remodeled to Down Down. I'll never understand why some grocery stores remodel when they do, and why some can go years without one. I know I've heard stories for both cases (remodels for doing really well or really poorly), but this store is holding its own somehow.

  8. I doubt Winn-Dixie #662 had a Pharmacy department. Eckerd #474 was adjacent to Winn-Dixie #662.
    It relocated to a freestanding location at 14998 Tamiami Trail, likely in the late 1990s. The freestanding store is now CVS #3258.

    1. That actually makes sense. After reading your comment, if the pharmacy was closed, Winn-Dixie would have just blocked it off and not carved an alcove out of the space. I also searched the Florida pharmacy license database and it didn't pull anything for Winn-Dixie #662 (at least since 1997), so Eckerd must have blocked WD from having a pharmacy. I updated the post to reflect this.

  9. A new store isn't going up on site? I guess we're not out of the woods yet when it comes to W-D struggling...

    1. No, which I was surprised to hear about too. The building appears to have been significantly damaged, so WD probably took the insurance money and ran, as fixing that old building probably would have been to expensive. This scenario is probably a one-off. It wouldn't surprise me if WD came back to town at a later date with a new store, but there are other more recently remodeled locations nearby that fill the void.

  10. How much did this store do in sales a week month year peak season, low season, and average

    1. I have no idea - I don't work for Winn-Dixie, so I couldn't say.